Links to Data Sources • with a focus on the US Census and Local & Regional Economic Development
last updated Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Please email me with broken and/or incorrect links or suggestions for additional sources. Thank you. SC
Scott Campbell (home page with links to courses) 
Associate Professor of Urban Planning
College of Architecture and Urban Planning
University Of Michigan

2000 Bonisteel Blvd.
Ann Arbor MI 48109-2069
office: 2352 A&AB

There is a large, overlapping and sometimes overwhelming array of data sources. Many of these data portals lead back to the same primary source (such as US Census data). Be aware of BOTH the portal you use to access the data (e.g., Social Explorer) and the original source of the data (e.g., the American Community Survey), and include both in your citation.

As you explore the sources listed below, think about the differences based on:

  1. source of data:  government, non-profit, private
  2. focus of data:  labor, demographic, business, etc.
  3. unit of analysis:  individual, hhd, family, firm, geography (e.g., city), organization (e.g., non-profit), etc.
  4. geography of data:  e.g., is the data organized by geography?  (e.g., a list of the 100 largest cities; unemployment by state, etc.)   Does the data have a geo-code?  (e.g., an address or at least a zip code for a firm?). What's the smallest geographic scale available (e.g., Census Tract? City? County?)
  5. access to data:  is it free?  Or for a fee?  (And does UM have a subscription?)
  6. frequency of data: is it annual? every 10 years (the decennial census); every five years (the Economic Census), etc.
  7. format of output: Some sites are more user-friendly than others. Some are best for finding a single data point (e.g., the current unemployment rate for the US), while others are better for finding a large data set (e.g., the unemployment rate for all metropolitan areas). Some sources work better to present the data on the screen, while others are better if you want to download the data in a usable format (e.g., Excel format). Finally, some have the capacity to present the data in charts and (increasingly) in thematic maps (online GIS).
US Census
US Census Bureau, including:

Other US Government Resources
US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) • including:

US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) (data at the national, international, regional and industrial levels) - including:

US Economic Development Administration (EDA)

DATA.GOV • Local Government • Data Catalog

HUD, Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R)

Fedstats (a nice gateway to federal statistics)

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Federal Reserve BankEconomic Research & Data

International Sources
United Nations Development Program (UNDP): • Human Development ReportsHuman Development Data (1980-2015)
UN Statistics DivisionUNdataUN comtrade
World Bankdata
International Labour Organizationstatistics
Globalization and World Cities Research Network
IMFdata and statistics
European Unionstatistics
Inter-American Development Bankresearch and data
World Government Data (
Europa World Plus (UM access)
International Economic Development Council

Resources at UM
Stephen S. Clark LibraryGovernment InformationSpatial and Numeric Data Services (SAND)GIS
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)Find Data
U-M Spatial Analysis & GIS
UM China Data Center
ProQuest: Statistical Insight
Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy (IRLEE) •

Research Guides/Resources from the UM Library
Urban & Regional Planning (AAE Library, Rebecca Price librarian) • Statistics / GIS (a useful guide with links) • (AAE Library, Rebecca Price librarian)
State and Local Government Information
Geospatial Data

Social Explorer (license required, best to link through UM)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)data • Economic Indicators and Releases"ten best sites" • Data Collections
Economic Policy Institute: Datazone
SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments)
The Northeast-Midwest Institute
National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership

Telling Stories with Numbers
Telling Stories with Numbers (a brief talk given to the Agora Journal)

The Non-Digital Alternative Approach to Thoughtful Writing
Wendell Berry, "How To Be a Poet"